COMPUTATIONAL SOCIAL SCIENCE SEMINAR – Networks and Change in Economic History – ROOT

February 16, 2018 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Center for Social Complexity Suite 3rd Floor, Research Hall, Fairfax Campus
Karen Underwood


Hilton Root, Professor
Schar School of Policy and Government
George Mason University

Networks and Change in Economic History

Friday, February 16, 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
3rd Floor, Research Hall

ABSTRACT:  Prof. Root, a frequent visitor to the social complexity seminar, would like to discuss the conceptual framework of his forthcoming book Networks and Change in Economic History. He explores what the great transitions in human social organization share with other complex systems.

To characterize the essential properties of great transitions in history—those that fashion the fundamental institutions for economic growth—the book considers the economy as a network of networks in which the probability of extreme events increases as systems become more interconnected.

The book is divided into three distinct sections. The first advances theory and includes Chapter 1, which discusses the creation of global order; Chapter 2, which addresses the connection of economic history with other sciences, especially with study of complex systems; and Chapter 3, which connects economic history, complexity, and the study of human behavior. It is chapter 2 that he would like to discuss. The key concepts of this section are the juxtapositions, coexistence, and complementarities of order and disorder, and of closed systems within an open universe; the irreversibility of time; and the networked interdependence of different levels of social order. Chapter 2 is attached.

The Table of Contents is below. Interested seminar participants, please contact Prof. Root ( for copies of other chapters

Introductory Remarks: Great Transitions in Economic History

Chapter One:            Five Transitions and the Formation of Social Order

Chapter Two:            Growth, Form, and Self-Organization in the Economy

Chapter Three:         Human Evolutionary Behavior and Political Economy

Chapter Four:           Network Dynamics of Institutional Formation in Europe and China

Chapter Five:            Why the Western Legal Tradition Is Not Replicable (with Cameron Harwick)

Chapter Six:             Disruptive Innovation and Networks in World History

Chapter Seven:         How China and the U.S. Think Differently About Markets, and Why It Matters for Globalization (with Baocheng Liu) 

Chapter Eight:          Global Networks Over Time: Where We Are in the History of Globalization (with Kevin Comer, Jack Goldstone and David Masad

Chapter Nine:           Will Growing Complexity Bring Diminishing Returns or Massive                          


Conclusion:             Can Western Nations Manage the Transformations Underway?


BIO:  Dr. Hilton Root is a policy specialist in international political economy and development, and a member of the faculty at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. His current research examines three related areas: (1) global power transition and the challenge of legitimacy; (2) the comparative and historical dynamics of state-building; and (3) the use of complexity models to understand the evolution of social institutions.